I'm about to write what many in Mountaineer country will consider blasphemy, but...I'm not sold on Jeff Mullen, and am fearful of an offensive collapse.
And it's not like my normal fear of the unknown, like kissing a girl. It's more like, Dave Wannstedt giving me mustachio grooming advise, or Marcus Vick babysitting my teenage sister, or Dan Dakich coaching my basketball team. (I genuinely felt sorry for Indiana.)
I'm scared to death. Extreme paranoia.
Things that keep me awake at night:
- The fear of Carnies.
- The fear of seeing Kirsten Dunst.
- The fear of the Stiles cornering me to talk about the NBA.
- The fear of Jeff Mullen ruining the best sustained offensive success in WVU history.
Now, I know the rhetoric. Mullen is adding a new element to the offense. No more bubble screens. Rodriguez only called three plays.
Believe me, I hate Rodriguez more than anyone. I'm still plotting his demise. (I don't want to give anything away to potential investigators, but it may involve bubbles and a screen). But, he had a nice thing going at WVU.
Sure, we lost to Pitt due to no adjustments and bad play calling, but almost every team loaded the box against us to no avail.
(The USF loss was due to turnovers - 6 TO's, 400 yds of offense. The losses in 2006 were mostly due to turnovers. And I disagree with the Pat White was injured argument- keeping in mind my man crush on him - we were playing just as poorly with him in both those games as without him. Jarrett Brown was responsible for both TD's.)
From 2005-2007, the offense was as good as anyone could have possibly hoped for. There were a few games it underachieved, as I expect a TD every possession, but every team has off games. If you want to make the argument the offense needed some serious adjustments from 2001-2004 I'll agree 100%.
The whole 2001 season, losses to Maryland, Cincinnati, and especially Virginia Tech and Pitt in 2004 were all cause by the inability of Rodriguez to adjust, first from passing non-stop, then to running non-stop. I noticed the first year he had almost no diverse or deep route packages, and I still have nightmares of Rasheed Marshall on a 3rd and 8 QB draw.
But I digress. Everyone would probably agree that the Fiesta Bowl should be a template of how the offense should be run. But now it's being changed. Involving the tight end, more motion, bigger offensive linemen, spreding the ball, new terminology is all code for, Jeff Mullen could be turning the WVU offense into a lower scoring unit molded after Wake Forest.
First lets look at the passing game. Yes, deep routes will open up the run game, but it is also a greater risk and will lead to more interceptions. Pat White is the best running QB I've ever seen, but he is not a phenomonal passer. To date, almost all his passes have been low risk throws. Throwing over the middle will lead to more picks, like it has already in the team scrimmages.
Also, everyone is cheering the absence of bubble screens. I think people might find themselves surprised once the season starts. Mullen has talked at length about the new screen game he has installed, and the numbers from scrimmages back that up. White and Brown normally have attempted around 15 passes for 70 yards, and even when those numbers are higher, the yardage never never reaches the ideal mark of 10 yards per completion.
You might say, yeah, but now we're going to involve the tight end. Not impressed. Getting the ball to the tight end means throwing the ball over the middle (more dangerous) and to a player with lesser skill (big, slow guys). With Will Johnson, I'm excited about the mismatch it can create, but also worried about his blocking abilities on a rush linebacker.
I like the idea of having another weapon, but the offense was just fine without it. And instead of "spreading the ball around now", I would rather have the ball in White and Devine's hands as many plays as humanly possible. No offense to Tito Gonzalez, Jalloh, Lyons, and the rest, they are not White and Devine.
The last thing that scares me is the talk about Pat White and Jarrett Brown playing at the same time.
Pat White is the one of the best QB's in the country and a Heisman candidate. Brown is a solid backup, but has ONE career start and a couple handful of fourth quarters. Why would you not want White touching the ball every snap.
There is no way he is as good a reciever as QB, and there's no way Brown is as good a QB as White. So by putting White at WR (a position he's never played), you make the QB position weaker, and probably make the recieving corp a little better. But not enough to overcome the diminshed QB spot, so at best you break even.
It also leads to the potential of both your QB's getting injure. Bill Stewart can talk all he wants about not being scared of players getting injured, but until he takes Pat White's non-contact jersey off during practice, or tells me he wouldn't sell his soul to keep White healthy all year, I don't buy it.
I know this post is being brought to you by Debbie Downer, but let's look a the facts. Jeff Mullen has never been an offensive coordinator, and comes from a team with a much worse offense. Bill Stewart has only been a head coach once and with limited to no success. Pat White is the best runner in Mountaineer history, but is not a throwing QB.
So just because we hate how our former coach left, doesn't mean his offense needs a major overhaul. His offense didn't need to be changed at all. Maybe tweaks here and there, but 40 points, 300 yards rushing, 0 turnovers is a pretty good recipe for success.
I hope I am proven completely wrong, but blind optimism isn't in my repetoire when a first time offensive coordinator is changing the best offense in Mountaineer history.
I refuse to use revisionist history are act like just because Rich Rodriguez is a scumbag and blew the biggest game in his career, that his offense was too predictable. It was predictable all the way to 3 straight 11 win seasons and 40 points per game.